Wu, B.K., Yuan, R.Y., Chang, Y.P., Lien, H.W., Chen, T.S., Chien, H.C., Tong, T.S., Tsai, H.P., Fang, C.L., Liao, Y.F., Chang, C.C., Chen, R.P., Huang, C.J. (2016) Epicatechin isolated from Tripterygium wilfordii extract reduces tau-GFP-induced neurotoxicity in zebrafish embryo through the activation of Nrf2. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 477(2):283-9.
Tau plays important roles in the assembly and stabilization of the microtubule structure to facilitate axonal transport in mammalian brain. The intracellular tau aggregates to form paired helical filaments leading to neurodegenerative disorders, collectively called tauopathies. In our previous report, we established a zebrafish model to express tau-GFP to induce neuronal death, which could be directly traced in vivo. Recently, we used this model to screen 400 herbal extracts and found 45 of them to be effective on reducing tau-GFP-induced neuronal death. One of the effective herbal extracts is the Tripterygium wilfordii stem extract. HPLC analysis and functional assay demonstrated that epicatechin (EC) is the major compound of Tripterygium wilfordii stem extract to decrease the neurotoxicity induced by tau-GFP. Using a luciferase reporter assay in the zebrafish, we confirmed that EC could activate Nrf2-dependent antioxidant responses to significantly increase the ARE-controlled expression of luciferase reporter gene. These data suggest that EC from the Tripterygium wilfordii stem extract could diminish tau-GFP-induced neuronal death through the activation of Nrf2.